Psalm/Psong for April 9 – “Helplessness Blues” by Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes have the same effect on me now that the band Yes had on me when I was a teenager. Most of the time I feel like I have no idea what they’re saying, but I love how it sounds. Every now and then I think I’ve glimpsed a flash of meaning, but it’s like unexpected lightning or thunder. I look around and wonder, “Did I just hear/see that? Is that what that was?” Or, I find myself singing along, loudly, and wondering if I’m unwittingly speaking in some sort of code. Usually I confine that behavior to the car, when I’m alone.

Fleet Foxes has a new album coming out in May, but they’ve released this teaser psong: the title tune from the new record “Helplessness Blues.” The entire sonic experience of this psong is a keeper. I also particularly relate to these lines, “If I know only one thing/it’s that everything that I see/of the world outside is so inconceivable/often, I barely can speak.” Then again, why speak when you can sing?!

Lyrics for “Helplessness Blues”:

I was raised up believin’
I was somehow unique
like a snowflake, distinct among snowflakes
unique in each way you can see.
And now after some thinkin’
I’d say I’d rather be
a functioning cog in some great machinery
servin’ some thing beyond me

But I don’t, I don’t know what that will be.
I’ll get back to you someday,
soon you will see.

What’s my name, what’s my station
Oh, just tell me what I should do
I don’t need to be kind to the armies of night
that would do such injustice to you.
Or bow down, and be grateful
and say “sure, take all that you see”
to the men who move only in depleted halls
and determine my future for me.

And I don’t, I don’t know who to believe
I’ll get back to you someday,
soon you will see.

If I know only one thing
it’s that everything that I see
of the world outside is so inconceivable
often, I barely can speak.
Yeah, I’m tongue tied and dizzy
and I can’t keep it to myself.
What good is it to sing helplessness blues?
Why should I wait for anyone else?

And I know, I know you keep me on the shelf
I’ll come back to you someday,
soon, myself.

If I had an orchard
I’d work ’till I’m raw.
If I had an orchard
I’d work ’till I’m sore.
And you would wait tables and soon run the store.

Gold hair in the sunlight my light in the dawn.
If I had an orchard I’d work ’till I’m sore.

Oh oh ohh.

Someday I’ll be like the man on the screen.

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